The Masque of the Red Death (2010 Election Analysis and Endorsements)

I’m not sure which depresses me more, the upcoming national elections, or the ones in New York. I’ve been putting this off, but, as they say in Latin, it’s now tuchis afn tisch time.

THE US HOUSE AND SENATE: As to the national elections, it would be nice to say I think there are a few Democrats worthy of defeat, because surely there are, but given the GOP’s near unanimous inability to ever breaks ranks for the good of the country, even on issues upon which they agree with the President, the time has come for the public to say “enough is enough.”

Unfortunately, the public will almost surely be saying it to the wrong people.

The failures of the Democrats have sometimes been of guts and courage, more so of strategy and tactics, more often than that of salesmanship, but in the end they amount to politics being the art of the possible, and the limits of possibility under the circumstances.

The failure of the Republicans sometimes stem from ideological fanaticism, but mostly owe to a belief that failure of our nation in the short run is for the greater good, if not for their country, then for themselves.

Henry Kissinger used to engage in plateau bargaining, the art of having someone agree to your terms and then asking for more; today’s Republicans abhor plateau bargaining–the last thing they want is agreement.

Obama has put forth a health plan combining features originally proposed by Bob Dole and Mitt Romney; he has put forth a carbon restriction bill based totally on market-oriented Republican principles; he's cut taxes; he’s appointed a bi-partisan deficit reduction commission almost certain to put forth a plan less palatable to Democrats than Republicans; he adopted George W. Bush‘s bank bailout, auto industry bail out and immigration reform plans. He’ not precipitously withdrawn troops anywhere we have them, and actually expanded some.

No president in decades has reached out more than Barack Obama, and for his troubles he’s been branded as a foreign socialist Muslim.

My baseline rule for this election is not to support a Republican for either house of Congress, anywhere.

I can think for virtually no exceptions to the rule. I suppose I’d support Republican Lindsay Graham against the brain damaged Alvin Green in South Carolina, but Greene is not running against the relatively moderate and sometimes courageous Graham, and I’d probably vote for Jimmy McMillan, Charles Barron or Dov Hikind against Jim DeMint.

In Kentucky, Democrat Jack Conway has run a campaign beneath contempt, but Rand Paul not only represents the worst of a dangerous movement, but also lacks the decency to express outrage when football hooligans in his campaign used a human head for their practice sessions.

The one exception I might make is Charlie Crist, running as an Independent in Florida. Crist is a man of no discernable principles who stands the best chance of stopping the victory of far right winger Marco Rubio–but if there were instant runoff voting, I’d support Kendrick Meek in a heart beat.


THE SENATE: Earlier this year, I expressed my mostly non-issue based annoyance at Chuck Schumer‘s big-footed efforts to push every other pol in New York out of camera range as he hits them over the head with his big swinging dick. But, two factors will make Schumer less of a New York annoyance in the future.

The first is that Andrew Cuomo is going to rain like a tsunami on Schumer‘s local parade; the second is that Chuck is likely to be the Senate’s Democratic leader, and will no longer able to devote nearly so much time to imposing his will and his former staff upon the rest of us.

The Republicans, forced to chose between two rabid ideologues of no appeal whatsoever for the position being this year’s sacrificial lamb against Schumer, naturally chose the one with no discernable credentials. As such, this is an easy call.


Though the way he chose our US Senator ranks low on the long and still growing list of reasons why David Paterson has to go, it was hard not to be outraged at the way it occurred, even if, with my prejudice against those with a sense of entitlement, I couldn’t have been more delighted about who was not selected.

But, as I noted almost two years ago, Kirsten Gillibrand had her own sense of entitlement and her own monogrammed set of dynastic baggage. She also had tremendous luck, and a big footed senior colleague with a big swinging dick. I nonetheless ended up an early supporter once the egregious Harold Ford emerged as her likely opponent. That matter, having been cleared up, I endorsed a protest vote for Gillibrand’s primary opponent Gail Goode. But, as I said right before the primary, “Gatemouth endorses Gail Goode now and Gillibrand on Wednesday.“ .

Today, I reiterate that endorsement. Gillibrand works hard and mostly votes right. Her opponent is not only a ring wing troglodyte, but also a stone racist.


THE HOUSE: I suppose that if one has a Democratic representative seemingly engulfed by scandal who will win under any circumstances, it might be permissible to cast a protest vote against them, but while it might seem satisfying to vote against Charlie Rangel and Greg Meeks, that’s only because you have no idea who they’re running against them. I do, so I’d still hold my nose and vote for the Democrat.

And in seats with the slightest chance of a Republican victory, one cannot be too careful. A Republican controlled House is going to be a two year long impeachment hearing, so I am making a blanket call to vote for Democrats in every House race, even in races where your vote does not matter. Since nationally, the seats are slightly gerrymandered in favor of Republicans, this will at least increase our percentage of the national vote, which is a useful metric, especially when it varies from the actual results.

Since this in an NYC blog, I will only make mention of the race for Congress in the 13th CD where incumbent Mike McMahon, a moderate Democrat, faces Michael Grimm, who is so scary right wing that the Staten Island branch of the Conservative Party is actively working for McMahon.

To my friends on the left, I will admit that McMahon has not been with the Party on every important vote; he’s just been with us on nearly every vote where his vote made a difference. He deserves out support.


GOVERNOR: 1) Why to Vote for Andrew Cuomo.

2) How to vote if you can’t bear to do that.

ATTORNEY GENERAL: Republican Dan Donovan, the Staten Island DA, is in some ways not a bad guy; he’s shown himself to be more of a mensch on Park 51 than half the Democrats in NY, including his own member of Congress (who I just endorsed).

But, as Wayne Barrett has made clear, Donovan’ll surrender to Wall Street on Day One. This is not just a New York problem, it is a national problem.

New York’s AG’s office has been the leader in policing Wall Street. Investors around the country who cannot name their own state’s AG, or that of the US, knew who Eliot Spitzer was, and they know who Andrew Cuomo is.

And they are thankful.

Now the same scoundrels who Spitzer put in their place are bankrolling Donovan’s campaign.

Then there is a the matter of public corruption; as Tom Robbins notes, it is not merely that Donovan turns a blind eye to the local political mobsters, it is he’s pretty much one of the Goodfellas himself–not quite Henry Hill or Jimmy Conway, but maybe Maury; if not Maury, then perhaps Spider.

Further, and I say this from a lengthy personal observation of his office, Donovan does not seem to run a good shop (I call him "The Sheriff of Mayberry"), and has put a low priority on such matters as domestic violence.

Eric Schneiderman is a weak candidate, whose guts I happen to hate like poison, and as I endlessly preached in the primary, he’s got some issues of his own. But, it is clear who has the priorities more in line with what is needed to be done by the AG’s office.


COMPTROLLER: There has been so much disgraceful and irrelevant nonsense put forth in this race by both candidates’ campaigns and their supporters that we’ve lost track of the only thing that matters.

For instance, yesterday Bloomie said that is should be a law that the Comptorller and Governor not come from the same party.


Mario Cuomo pretty much owned his Republican Comptroller, Ned Reagan. There is absolutely no doubt that he would have had a far sterner watchdog to deal with if he had the misfortune of having either his own party’s Herman Badillo or Carol Bellamy looking over his shoulder instead.

You can bet Mario did everything he could to make sure that that did not happen.

Party does not matter.

We are in the middle of a fiscal crisis; wouldn’t it be nice to get the guy who can do the best job?

The best thing we can do here in analyzing this race is to eliminate everything extraneous and look at the small picture.

Let me stipulate here that, if this were an election for any other office, there would be no contest. Tom DiNapoli is a conscientious public servant who wants to do good and to do well. Harry Wilson is a socially moderate Wall Street Republican.

Unlike his party nationally, Wilson has shown an admirable ability to put aside ideology and embrace pragmatism; and to not worry who benefits politically. Nonetheless, I’d have trouble voting for someone of his mindset for State Assembly, let alone a higher office.

Except perhaps for the office he is running for.

The State Comptroller has three main functions.

1) He conducts audits of State and local governmental entities.

2) He is the sole trustee of the State Pension Systems.

3) He does budget estimates and projections

Please read the Barrett article linked above and then ask yourself who could be perform these functions.

As someone with money in the pension system, there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever which of these men I’d hire if I wanted someone to manage my personal funds.

You think it’s DiNaopli? Look me in the eye and say that.

I will say that both candidates disappoint in not wanting to eliminate the Comptroller’s role as sole trustee, and set up some oversight even in this office which is all about oversight. But even there, Wilson is slightly more amenable to some useful changes.

The audit function. Let’s spot DiNapoli a tie here. But you can’t spot him any more than that.

On budget estimate, the key question is independence. The Comptroller’s job is by nature adversarial.

Parties really do not matter. Frankly, I think Tom DiNapoli is more likely to be independent of Andrew Cuomo than Harry Wilson.

I think Andrew thinks this too. Score one for DiNapoli.

But Andrew is only going to be the Temporary Governor. The real question is who can be more independent of the Permanent Governor, Sheldon Silver?

I do not doubt that Silver’s priorities will often be more in line with my own than Cuomo’s. But legislatures always want to give away goodies, and Governors always have to be the ones who say “no.”

And we are in times where “no” is more often the answer we need to hear.

And on the question of who is more likely to be independent of Shelly Silver, it is clear that no answer passes the laugh test other than Harry Wilson.

One more thing. It has been suggested by some that because Wilson favors civil unions rather than same sex marriage, he might interfere with the State’s current policy of extending full faith and credit to legally valid same sex marriages from other jurisdictions.

These would also seem to be nonsense. The current policy extends such full faith and credit to both civil unions and marriages for pension purposes. If one favored only civil unions, the worst one could do is treat such marriages as if they were only civil unions. In the context of the pension system, this would mean treating them exactly the same.

On the larger and more important matter of actually passing same sex marriage, I expect no impact. Neither Tom DiNapoli or Andrew Cuomo had any impact in their current roles and the irrelevance of the Comptroller and AG is likely to continue unabated.

The results of this race won’t even have any symbolic value, as Wilson would rather lick lepers than discuss this issue, and a pro-same sex marriage Governor is about to be elected by a landslide. People might take notice of an anti-same sex marriage candidate winning an election for city council in Park Slope, but this race itself will have no impact upon the continuing debate.


LEGISLATIVE RACES: I am saving our State legislature for a separate article. Hopefully, I will not have time to write it before the election, sparing me from further depression, though I might cheer myself up by then taking a look at the laugh-filled special election for Council in Southern Queens.